three-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
15-Mar-Apr-2005
By: 
Anita Shreve
user_rating: 
0

A-LightonSnowTwelve-year-old Nicky Dillon and her father Robert live in the woods of New Hampshire, mourning the death of Nicky’s mother and baby sister in a car accident. Their solitary existence is interrupted one snowy winter first by an abandoned baby and then by an ailing young woman. Long isolated with her unresponsive father, Nicky now receives the female confidante she has been craving—and lessons in morality, responsibility, and forgiveness.
Little, Brown. 304 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0316781487

Hartford Courant 4 of 5 Stars
"With Light on Snow, Shreve has written an inspirational book on the coincidences in life and the lack of control we have over them. Even more emotionally complex are her images of unexpected events that end in tragedy and the way we choose to live with the aftermath." Valerie Finholm

Boston Globe 3.5 of 5 Stars
"[Shreve’s] fans will be relieved to settle down on a snowy day with an appealing narrator caught in challenging circumstances." Judy Budz

Washington Post 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The images of Nicky’s father alone with his grief or the moment when Nicky menstruates for the first time with no mother with whom to discuss it are authentic and poignant. … The overall result is a novel that probably won’t be studied by Shreve scholars in fifty or a hundred years, but one that nevertheless offers moments that are diverting and pleasurable." Chris Bohjalian

Guardian (UK) 2 of 5 Stars
"It’s as if Shreve has been reading a clutch of magazine articles about loss and grief and teenage pregnancy, and decided to hang a rather straightforward novel on them." Julie Myerson

San Jose Mercury News 2 of 5 Stars
"Robert’s reactions don’t add up. … The guy is so emotionally constipated from grief that we don’t get to know him or his motivations." Donna Yanish

Critical Summary

Critics agree that Light on Snow is not Shreve’s best work. One called it simplistic, while another complained that the characters’ actions were not believable. Some questioned Shreve’s decision to tell the story from the point of view of an adult Nicky, whose removal from the events deprives the narrative of immediacy. Several readers did find Nicky’s story affecting, and Shreve devotees may enjoy this book as a lesser effort by a favorite author. Those seeking an introduction to her work, however, might look for a different place start—The Pilot’s Wife, perhaps.

Also by the Author

The Pilot’s Wife (1998): Award Star An Oprah Book Club Selection. Kathryn Lyon’s husband dies in a plane crash for which he may have been responsible. As she copes with her grief, she struggles to clear his name—and discovers the secrets he hid from her.